Scientists develop non-invasive COVID-19 antibodies test

Image of coronavirus cell. Credit: Fusion Medical Animation/ Unsplash

Checking for COVID-19 antibodies has up until now required a blood test, but a new non-invasive urine test has been developed by scientists in Brazil.

An article in the journal Science Advances says that the test assesses whether a person has developed antibodies, either through vaccination or having had the virus. According to the developers, it can do so with the same accuracy as a blood test.

The current method requires trained nurses and technicians to take and check the blood samples, whereas the urine to detect antibodies allows patients to collect their own samples and eliminate the need for experts to draw blood and handle samples.

Testing using this method is therefore not only cheaper but more accessible. It will also allow health authorities to obtain more samples and therefore get a better picture of the true infection rate.

Fernanda Ludolf, from the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil, and her team developed a urine-based Elisa test using the coronavirus protein.

209 urine samples were taken from 139 patients between 2 and 60 days after COVID-19 symptoms began, and compared their results with those of the well-established serum-based Elisa test.

They found that the urine-based platform successfully detected the antibodies in 187 of the samples, demonstrating a sensitivity of 94 percent, compared to the 88 percent sensitivity of the serum-based test.

Ludolf said: “Given that we have identified antibodies against the N protein of SARS-CoV-2 in urine, the development of a urine Elisa test based on the protein S or spike of the virus may also be feasible to cover other applications of serological tests, such as detection of vaccine-induced antibodies.

The relatively low cost of the non-invasive COVID-19 test provides health authorities with the potential to check the effectiveness of vaccination programmes, reducing wastage and ensuring maximum protection.


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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]

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